The magic of the holiday season flooded the air as well as the hearts of everyone who came to Whitesville December 6th to watch or participate in the annual Christmas parade.
“Best parade ever!!!” gushed Michelle Averson, a long-time Whitesville resident who, like many in this small community, has seen dozens of Whitesville parades, but none have been quite like this. “I felt like I was in a Hallmark movie!” she said.
Riding in their father’s bedecked golf cart, Averson and her sister Shelly Murphy joined more than 40 floats and emergency vehicles for Whitesville’s first ever night-time parade, coined “Light Up the Night.” Vickey Kuhn Ferrell pioneered the idea to move the parade to the evening, with dazzling floats sparkling in Christmas lights. “I thought it would be beautiful,” she said.
The result ignited a flame of passion in the community for Whitesville’s parade tradition, which had seemed to wane to only embers in recent years with just a handful of floats and firetrucks gracing the streets. Many who grew up watching grand parades of yesteryear have lamented that it just wasn’t as big of a deal as they remembered, but that was before this night parade once again drew a magnificent crowd, with an epic amount of participants spreading Christmas cheer.
The Whitesville Fire Department hosted the parade, but departments from Clear Creek to Van participated along with the local emergency crews, decking the fire-trucks with colorful Christmas lights and blow-up decorations. Many churches, businesses, and other groups including scout troops, cheer teams, basketball teams, and others, created very decorative, festive floats, and Sherman High School’s band marched and played Christmas tunes. Santa Claus appeared throughout the evening on many floats and trucks and even a motorcycle, as well as on stage and street.
Countless people took to social media that Saturday night, raving about the parade and saying they felt like children again.
“The Christmas parade was one of the best I have seen and it was so nice to see so many people in Whitesville,” said Michael Joe Monhollen. “It reminded me of the old days!”
Many others shared similar sentiments, including Brandi Parris. “It was the best parade I have ever seen! I loved it so much!” she said. “You could just feel the Christmas spirit, everyone saying Merry Christmas and being so happy! It was just amazing!”
The parade followed a two-day Christmas Bazaar held at the Salamy Building. After it was through, dozens of people socialized at the Coal Heritage Riverwalk Park, sipping complementary hot chocolate and eating cookies as they waited for Santa to hand out treats to the little ones. A newly formed Community Chilren’s Choir sang Christmas carols. Bette Dillon had the honor of lighting the town’s tree, a tradition that began last year with Charlie Arvon. “The tradition was that as the tree grows, so will the town,” said Turn This Town Around member Betty Ann Stine Williams through the event site on Facebook.
Many people have expressed the hope that holding the parade at night will become a tradition as well. Some, like Ferrell, are already making plans for next year to build onto this year’s events; her new ideas include a horse and buggy ride, a marshmallow roast, and a live manger scene, she said.
Williams summed up what the whole community seemed to feel with a post on social media after the parade that night: “Being in Whitesville this afternoon and evening brought back so many wonderful memories. People in town, people on the sidewalks, people shopping at the Bazaar, Santa giving out treats, caroling by children and adults, the lighting of the town tree, hot chocolate, cookies, Santa hats, etc., etc., etc… Thank you Lord for Your blessings on the Town of Whitesville tonight!”